Monday, April 09, 2012
STUDY CLAIMS WOMEN GOSSIP FIVE HOURS PER DAY
Recently an online British newspaper headline caught my eye. It read "Women Gossip For Five Hours Per Day, Claims Study!" The study seemed legitimate but I am very careful to fact check these things before I write about them. My process is two-fold. First I check with Wikipedia. If that doesn't satisfy me, then I ask this guy, Ted, who lives down the street because he seems to know a lot of stuff. Wikipedia said nothing about how much women gossip each day, so I asked Ted and he said five hours sounded about right.
So I am running with this story.
The article doesn't say how the data was gathered. I doubt that researchers followed 1200 women around for a week, recording how much each woman talked each day, how much could be classified as "gossip", and what subjects she gossiped about. It is more likely the study asked women to guess what their personal experience was.
What is gossiping exactly and is it really such a bad thing? Fortunately we can find the answer in one of the books of the Apocrypha (these are holy writings which are not included in the Bible because we are not sure of their authenticity).The Book of Sins states clearly that gossiping is a sin and describes in detail what it is. Here is the relevant scripture verse in The Book of Sins 146:23:
Thou shalt not gossip. He who gossipeth doth commit a sin. Thou shalt not criticize a man or woman, neither their manservant nor theirmaidservant nor their cow nor their gerbil. Speak not ill of another's character nor his hair or lack thereof; neither criticize another's national origin or double chin. Nevertheless, if thou endeth thy rant with the phrase "Bless his heart" it shall not be counteth against thee as a sin.
In other words, we can gossip all we want about someone and it is not a sin if we end with "Bless his (or her) heart." A few verses later it says that if we are gossiping about a deceased person we have to say "may he (or she) rest in peace."
The survey also asked women what they gossiped about the most and the article listed the top 20 subjects. To men, the fact that women could find 20 subjects to talk about is as surprising as gossiping five hours per day. Men could never talk about 20 topics in a day unless you count each NFL team as a separate subject.
Not surprisingly, shopping was the #1 topic, and diet and exercise were 2nd. "Holidays" were 3rd (I asked Ted and he said he thought that meant "Vacations" in Great Britain). The 4th most common topic was "What they would do with a lottery win." I was surprised this was so high on the list, but as I write this, a woman in Maryland claims to have had a lottery ticket worth $200 million. She says she hid it in a McDonald's where she works and can't find it. I am sure many Americans are now gossiping about what an airhead she is (bless her heart) and what they would do with the money if they found the winning ticket in a Big Mac.
In general, women are more interested in talking while men prefer doing things, so a similar study would probably find that men gossip a lot fewer than 5 hours a day. However, there is a saying that "All generalizations are false," so there are surely some men who gossip more than some women. Actually, that saying has always bothered me because, if it is true, then isn't it also false? I asked Ted about this and he said he would think about it and get back to me.
David LeSueur lives in Littleton, Colorado. If you have any questions for Ted email me and I will pass them on. Allow a few months for the answer because Ted has not been very dependable lately. Bless his heart.